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Putting it right

Feeling the power of Citizens Advice Westminster 

With many thousands of people applying for part- time bar work all over the country, a recent success story for Citizens Advice Westminster is a powerful example of how helping one applicant with a bad experience can benefit many others in a similar situation.

Laila, Campaigner (c) Citizens Advice Westminster

Laila, Campaigner
© Citizens Advice Westminster

Prior to joining Citizens Advice Westminster as a volunteer in the Research and Campaigns team, Laila had agreed to do a short trial shift in a local bar.  At the end of which she was asked to stay on for a full seven and a half hour shift without a break.  Laila was told she would be offered a permanent job on the rota starting in two weeks’ time and paid for the extended shift.  When she messaged the manager asking for the start date she was informed that she was not on the rota and the promised payment was not made. In fact, no explanation was given to Laila. Worse still she lost the chance of two other permanent job offers leaving her out of pocket for a further month while she started to bar work search all over again.

“I felt very demoralised and annoyed at the way I had been treated. But my initial reaction was that it probably wasn’t worth the time and stress of pursuing the pub for the money. However I was encouraged by the Research and Campaigns Coordinator to raise the matter formally in writing, but I was still doubtful. She explained how important it was to let the employer know what was going on. It was possible they might not actually be aware of the manager’s actions, so the letter would give them the opportunity to put things right. So with my permission, Citizens Advice Westminster wrote on my behalf.

As a result of this letter the pub responded immediately and I received my full pay for the shift. They accepted there had been a miscommunication from the start and agreed with Citizens Advice Westminster that they needed to make improvements to their starter process, requesting ID documents and tax and bank details so both employer and employee were clear about the arrangement from the start.

Without the guidance of Citizens Advice Westminster, I would have probably written an angry email or letter demanding my pay and that would probably have further inflamed the situation rather than solving my problem. By focussing on the facts in a calm and professional manner Citizens Advice Westminster evoked a business-like response from the employer who agreed there had been an unfortunate miscommunication and arranged payment very promptly.

Moreover the pub was receptive to the suggestion from Citizens Advice Westminster to improve their new starter procedures to prevent the problem in the future.”

So now what started out as getting a win and the best deal for Laila has turned into an opportunity for Citizens Advice Westminster to achieve a win for the wider community. As Laila explains:

As Laila explains:  “My first hand personal experience of the power of Citizens Advice Westminster has taught me an important lesson that I can use both in my own day to day life and in my work here, as I have now seen both sides of a live case. I also feel that I have been able to influence a change for the better in a sector where many thousands of people like me may have had difficulties in the past. Whenever I apply for a job in the future I will have the confidence to insist that the correct employment procedures are followed. For me, the real value of Citizens Advice Westminster is not only that it can educate you as to your rights and empower you to pursue a legitimate claim, but it can also turn your complaint into a positive driver for making a change to a defective process, and Put it Right for the good of all.”

Read more: Compensation and backdated benefits  for vulnerable client

If you are a Westminster resident and need advice on a problem, get in touch with us.

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